Last updated: December 21, 2023

What Does Acharya Mean?

Acharya is a Sanskrit term meaning “one who teaches by their conduct.” An acharya is a teacher who leads by example. It is used for teachers and gurus of yoga, as well as for the instructor, sect leader or learned person in many Indian religions. The meaning of acharya is slightly different, depending on whether it is used in Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism or yoga.

In addition, Acharya may be used as a suffix for a teacher of any discipline. It is a Brahmin surname which can be found across Nepal and India.


Yogapedia Explains Acharya

After some Yoga Teacher Training courses, the title Yoga Acharya, which means “master of yoga,” may be given to a yogi. This is the case in the Sivananda tradition. After students graduate from the Advanced Yoga Teacher Training, the title is bestowed upon them.

In Hinduism, acharya is given as the formal title for a guru. There are five main traditional acharyas: Adi Sankaracharya, Ramanujacharya, Madhvacharya, Nimbarkacharya and Vallabhacharya. There are also modern acharyas, such as Sri Ramakrishna.

In Buddhism, an acharya is a senior teacher, such as Pema Chodron at Gampo Abbey.

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